By Max Bowenemail@example.com
Addiction is something we may think is limited to low-income neighborhoods or cities, but a new documentary airing on North TV shows that it has been in this area for some time.
“North TV Reports: Addiction Hits Home” will begin airing on the Community Channel on Friday, Nov. 13, and can be streamed from the North TV web site. North TV Executive Director Peter Gay said the idea came about when they made a similar program on homelessness in the area three years ago. It was learned that in some cases, people lost their homes due to addiction, and Gay was surprised to learn it was so prevalent locally.
“I didn’t realize that addiction was such an issue [around here],” he said.
Gay spoke to Police Chief John Reilly, who recommended that he contact Brett Luongo, who helped to start the group NA in NA, a recovery program for those in the North Attleborough area. The group still exists today, and has around 40 members. Luongo, a former North Attleborough resident who is also a recovering addict, interviewed a number of people who were either recovering or had family members that suffered from addiction.
“People really opened up,” said Gay. “I think it’s really powerful.”
Gay hopes that those who watch “Addiction Hits Home” can be more understanding, and that those who suffer from addiction realize that they have nothing to be ashamed of. He said the name is meant to show that addiction isn’t just a ‘big city’ problem.
“It’s not on it’s way here, it’s not getting here,” said Gay. “It’s been here for awhile.”
Luongo said that there are many people who have battled addiction or know someone who has. He hopes that in watching this documentary, they learn that help is out there, and that it helps break the stigma associated with it. He added that the perception of those who suffer from addiction has changed in recent years, but should be viewed with compassion and empathy.
“Just to know there is help out there and there is hope,” said Luongo. “You feel like you’re so far down in the hole that there is no coming back. There is light and resources.”
Sharing their stories
The hour-long program opens with audio from a 911 call on Sept. 18, 2017 at 7:25 p.m., reporting a person lying on the ground outside a Shell station in North Attleborough. Police and EMTs responded and after determining that the subject had overdosed, administered Narcan, successfully saving their life.
Following this, the people Luongo interviewed talk about their lives before addiction took hold—their childhood, families, in some cases amazed that someone from North Attleborough or Plainville could wind up addicted. Each person opens up on a number of challenging topics, talking about abuse they endured or how their lives spiraled out of control.
Lee, a member of a recovery program, had been in the Marine Corps, and was later incarcerated and homeless due to addiction. As a teenager, he got in a fight and got hurt. Angry about this, he went home and began drinking vodka.
“I saw it as a go-to,” he said of the liquor cabinet.
Joanne, who is also in a 12-step program, talked about how she would go to work under the influence. In her younger years, there was considerable abuse, and also parties where alcohol was available. She referred to a time while walking to school, a friend asked her if she wanted to smoke a joint.
“It took me out of myself,” she said.
Many of those who spoke with Luongo talked about the damage they caused, friendships ended, relationships “burned to the ground.” Sean, part of a 12-step program, said it was hard being known as the person who stole street signs or had been arrested. He said his mother avoided going to North Attleborough because of this.
“I hurt my whole family,” he said.
The documentary also looks at their lives now, and those interviewed shared that they have been addiction-free, in some cases for years. Amy, a member of a recovery program, said help is available.
“There’s so much hope,” she said. “You have to hang on and find some faith.”
If you or someone you know is battling addiction, call 1-866-NA-HELP-U (1-866-624-3578).